Ujj

35%

5 years

14.26 COMPARING IRR, NPV, AND PAYBACK _

For most projects, both IRR and NPV will generate the same accept-reject decision. However, there are differences that can exist in the underlying assumptions that can cause the projects to be ranked differently. The major problem is the differences in the magnitude and timing of the cash inflows. NPV assumes that the cash inflows are reinvested at the cost of capital, whereas IRR assumes reinvestment at the project's IRR. NPV tends to be a more conservative approach.

The timing of the cash flows is also important. Early year cash inflows tend to be at a lower cost of capital and are more predictable than later year cash inflows. Because of the downstream uncertainty, companies prefer larger cash inflows in the early years rather than the later years.

Magnitude and timing are extremely important in the selection of capital projects. Consider Table 14-18.

If the company has sufficient funds for one and only one project, the natural assumption would be to select Project D with a 35% IRR. Unfortunately, companies shy away from long-term payback periods because of the relative uncertainties of the cash inflows after Year 1. One chemical/plastics manufacturer will not consider any capital projects unless the payback period is less than one year and has an IRR in excess of 50%!

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